Monday, April 19, 2010

A really long post about Ryan's hamster

We aren't a typical pet family. Instead of dogs or cats as pets we have rabbits, fish, frogs and hamsters. We'll never have cats or dogs, even with all of the Santa requests our kids try to work into every Christmas season. Ryan has severe asthma around dogs and we don't even dare try him around cats. So we have to settle with random, not really loving and cuddly pets

We have had our fair share of bad luck in the hamster department. Ryan desperately wanted a hamster for Christmas a few years back. He got a cute hamster, "Caramel", full of personality. A few weeks after he became part of our family, our furnace went out and it got really cold in Ryan's room. I didn't worry about it since the kids were all at school. A few days later, Ryan commented that his hamster wasn't moving and just wanted to sleep. I checked on his hamster. Not moving. And not sleeping. I did some hamster research and found out they easily go into hibernation when temperatures drop. And if not quickly awoken, die from dehydration and starvation. I felt so guilty for not bringing his cage upstairs into the warm part of the house.

A month later, on Valentine's Day, we tried it again. It was the only teddy bear hamster at the pet store and we were told it was almost a year old (didn't know hamsters only live about a year). Ryan didn't care. He wanted a hamster and didn't want to wait another day. "Valentine" came home and died about 3 weeks later.

Several months passed with little talk of the empty cage and the need to fill it with a new furry friend. But as Ryan's 11th Birthday approached, it was all he could talk about. The only thing he wanted for his birthday was a Black Bear Hamster. I called all over town and couldn't find any in stock. Then I called a new pet store in town and was in luck. They had one in their store. It was the night before Ryan's birthday and he immediately fell in love with "Bengal" (named after his football team).



About 4 months later, Ryan came upstairs, carrying Bengal and was worried about a lump he could feel on her neck. I thought it was just food in one of her pockets. But the lump continued to grow. I called the pet store and was given the name of vet who specialized in small animals. I called to schedule an appointment and hesitated when I found out it would cost $55 just for the consultation and would need to pay more if I decided to treat the lump. I called Gavin and we decided that it was our responsibility as pet owners to take her in, even if she did only cost $12. The vet examined her (and let me know it was a her) and then said he could do surgery on her tumor but it would cost $300-400 and the tumor could return. He also said she wasn't in any pain but as the tumor grew it would get harder for her to eat and function. We decided to take her home and let Ryan love her while he could.



The tumor grew and grew. Crazy actually how fast it grew. And Bengal could no longer walk without falling over. She couldn't eat or drink without us hand feeding her. It was so sad and I felt like she was suffering.

The tumor

We were all outside last night enjoying the warm night when our neighbor walked by with his dog. He had no choice but to stop with all of the excited cries from Mia, Morgan and Griffin. "Doggy! Doggy! Doggy!" We found out he is a veteranarian and could put Bengal to sleep. I called today and made an appointment. I made the appointment late in the afternoon so Ryan could be a part of it. Not sure if that was the best choice. But he felt like it was time to help Bengal. We drove to the office. Ryan held Bengal during the drive. We got to the office and both Ryan and I went back and watched. Ryan was doing well until the doctor came back out with Bengal. He knew Ryan wanted to take her home and bury her. He had the perfect place. The doctor held Bengal and then said, "It looks like her heart has now stopped beating" and gave Ryan his lifeless hamster. He then started to talk to me about the proper burial procedures and I was doing my best to hold back the tears. I felt silly crying over a hamster. But it was so much harder than I thought it would be. As soon as he finished and I turned towards the door, the tears started falling. Ryan was walking ahead of me. I couldn't see him but was certain he was crying, too. We got in the car and he sobbed the whole way home. It broke my heart to see him so sad.

We buried him in the backyard, in between some bushes. For some reason, Ryan thought if we brought him home he'd still be able to see him. So he had another breakdown when he realized he wouldn't see him after he was buried. After I finished digging the hole, Jack ran and got his trumpet and said he wanted to play Taps for the burial. Trying to bring some humor into the sadness. Ryan didn't like his attempt and hit his trumpet while he was playing. It made me smile and wish I had someone video taping our burial ceremony.

Ryan made this rock to put on her grave.
"RIP Bengal"


We weren't going to get another hamster. If the 3rd time wasn't a charm, what does that mean for the 4th time? It was time for Ryan to go to piano. His eyes were red and swollen. I asked him what he thought about getting another hamster. "Can I??? Really??? Oh, thank you mom!"

Guess who's going hamster shopping tomorrow!

21 comments:

Kristin said...

Sounds like my childhood - good luck!

DKAZ said...

That is a really long SAD post about Ryan's hamsters...may I offer my condolences right now to #4.

Heidi Rushing said...

I cried just reading about it! Unless you have ever lost a pet you have no idea what it can be like, regardless of the pet. It could even be a frog you found for free on camping trip - it is hard! It was especially tender seeing the tumor photos. I can't even think about what is waiting for us in the next few months. I only have 3 words....HAPPY HAMSTER HUNTING!!!!

Grandma Bethany said...

Sweet, tender Ryan...just like his mama! I think we lost track of how many birds you had buried at Chevy Chase.

Andrea said...

Pets mean so much to kids- you really did all the right things. The only pet we ever had was a goldfish named Ishmael and I still remember our toilet flushing burial.

Lacey said...

Oh poor hamster. My Mondo would have cried his eyes out too! Good luck with this next one!

JenB said...

Very sad ... I remember my hamster Hodgepodge. Hope you can find one who lives a long and happy life.

Cheri said...

Love it when a hamster post will bring a tear to your eye..

Tracy said...

Oh my goodness. That sounds so much like our last week! Allison's hamster was the sweetest little guy. About three weeks ago he started having periods of time where he would be very lethargic and seem to have a little trouble breathing. Twice we prepared for the demise of the hamster and twice it recovered. The third time, I rushed Allison out the door to school telling her he would probably be fine again. She asked me to come home and check on him. I fianlly got around to checking on the hamster about 11:00am and he was dead. Like you, I cried and could not believe I was crying about a hamster. I am wondering if we were crying more for our kids than the hamsters. I so dreaded telling Allison when she got home from school. We did not have taps at our service :-), but we now have a rock out in the flowerbed to mark Humphrey's grave. And now, I too am on a search for a replacement pet! Good luck with your new hamster!!

Kristie said...

RIP Bengal.
Nothing like a pet to make a bad day turn for the better!
(Glad you are going to replace him.)
What a good momma you are! ;)

Becca said...

Oh, how sad!!! I'm so sorry. We kept pet rats for several years - they're smart, fun, and friendly, and, like hamsters, don't live all that long. So it's really easy to get attached. Rats also get huge tumors. I did get the surgery for one of my rats, and yes, it was @$300. We let the tumors grow on the other rats until it was "time." Losing a pet is hard no matter how old you are and no matter how often you have to go through it. I hope Ryan is okay.

Tausha said...

Oh, I am so sorry about Ryan's hamster. No matter how small or large an animal is, it's still hard when they go if you have made that connection. It's so great the Ryan does make that connection, it's makes his heart grow bigger. We had the same issue with our dogs. Our first one ended up going blind and would run into all the furniture, our second one had seizures and we had to put him to sleep and our third one had a tumor on his heart and we had to put him to sleep. But, we still continue to get another one. There is just something about an animal to take care of.

jenjamin said...

ahhh... so sad but these experiences are such bonding teaching opportunities. Kids experience so much growth when they learn about lose and grief and then the realization that this too shall pass and they fall in love again with a new pet. .

Summer said...

That is so sad! Pets are such a great experience for kids but it can be so hard too. We aren't really dog or cat people either and have only had fish and now frogs. Easton's fish died a couple of months ago and he cried and cried. It broke my heart! It is so sad to see your kids cry. I love the rock for Bengal. Good luck finding another hamster!

Brittany said...

Oh man, I loved this story. It is always so hard to have pets die, but I do think that it can help kids learn how to deal with death. Sweet Ryan, I hope he enjoys his new hampster!

Sharon said...

Poor Ryan. So sorry to hear about Bengal passing away. They say bad luck comes in threes so hopefully you'll be much luckier with number four.
We had to put down a much loved 14 year old cat last week and our rabbit died too a few days later. So sad when pets die, they become real members of our families.

Rebecca said...

Why don't you try a guinea pig this time. We have two and LOVE them. I think they are heartier than hamsters and supposedly better temperment. Good luck, pets are a hard thing to lose!

Bethany said...

Oh my gosh, that poor little hamster! I had hamsters as a kid too, and the damn things always escaped and we'd eventually find them in the walls. I remember one time one of them smelled like maple syrup, so I guess it had been in the lazy susan where we kept ours. LOL - you are creating great memories for your kid ... keep it up mama!

Steph Kearns said...

Oh Heather...I totally feel your pain. Our hamster just died this past week too. Rectal prolapse...so not pretty. Poor Landon was so upset. Let me know how the next one works out for you....Landon's already in the hunt for another pet as well but I have said no mas...at least until summer. Not only can Landon's heart not handle another loss, I don't think mine can either.

Pohlmans said...

Poor little hamster! So I tried to put in the updates on the friends that we had talked about, well I couldn't figure it out. So one of these times will you explain it or show me?

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